Dell recently announced an OpenStack cloud solution that came with an installer, called Crowbar, which makes installation of OpenStack Cloud on bare metal servers seamless and less time consuming. In fact, with Crowbar, one can install OpenStack cloud on a rack within 30 mins or so. Dell has decided to open source Crowbar under Apache 2 license. The crowbar source code includes:
- A comprehensive set of barclamps to set up OpenStack cloud. Barclamps are set of wrappers that provide hooks for Chef cookbooks, helps identity how nodes are allocated, interacts with other barclamps, extends the provisioner state machine and provides custom user interfaces. In short, barclamps modularize the Crowbar architecture and makes the integration with Chef tighter
- Crowbar UI and Remote APIs to make it easy to set up your cloud
- Automated testing scripts for community members doing continuous integration with OpenStack
- Build scripts so you can create your own Crowbar install ISO
- Switch discovery so you can create Chef Cookbooks that are network aware
- Open source Chef server that powers much of Crowar’s functionality
As you can see from the above list, Chef is integral to Crowbar installer. Essentially, Crowbar uses Chef Server as database and relies on Chef recipies for node deployment. Even though Dell’s OpenStack cloud is based on Ubuntu, the flexibility offered by Chef recipies will allow users to install operating system of their choice.
Chef belongs to the family of policy based configuration management frameworks built for the cloud based world. Opscode is the company behind Chef and, similar to competing tools like Cfengine and Puppet, it is available as open source. Chef makes it easy to deploy servers and scale applications throughout an organization, no matter how complex their IT is. Built on top of Ruby, Chef makes infrastructure automation a child’s play. Crowbar is a typical example of how Chef can help in cloud deployment and automation.
Damon Edwards of Dev2Ops.org had a chance to interview Matt Ray, the key Opscode person involved in the Crowbar project. In this video Matt describes how Chef has played a vital role in Crowbar project.
This once again goes on to highlight one of the themes I am advocating in this blog, the role of open source in cloud computing. Even though pundits and some vendors join hands in dimissing the importance of open source, we are seeing more evidence showing how critical open source is for the very foundation of cloud computing and, also, to avoid any monopoly in the market.